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Call for Papers: Immunocapital in Systems of Knowledge Production

Sareeta Amrute and Mythri Jegathesan invite submissions to a special issue of the Anthropology of Work Review, to be published in winter 2022.

Published onJul 19, 2021
Call for Papers: Immunocapital in Systems of Knowledge Production

“Working to Live: Immunocapital in Systems of Knowledge Production”

Proposed Publication Date: Winter 2022

Deadline: November 29, 2021

This special issue of the Anthropology of Work Review calls for contributions that explore capitalist immunities and dynamics of surviving work in systems of knowledge production. Kathryn Olivarius (2019) defines immunocapital as the social, economic and political power and privilege that certain populations have based on their socially implicated and biological conditions of immunity from lethal conditions and agents of harm. This issue expands upon Olivarius’ concept to open up a broader discussion in the anthropology of work on the survival tactics of privilege and power that individuals and institutions use to build up immunities—real, performed, and imagined—in academia and other sites of knowledge production.

Human and nonhuman labor are integral to the infrastructural spaces and lifeways in which knowledge is produced, valued, and disseminated. From the transnational extractive tactics of the imperial university (Chatterjee and Maira 2014) and higher education’s “plantation politics” (Williams and Tuitt 2021) to global markets of learning (Harney and Moten 2013), neocolonial regimes of data mining and labor organization (Amrute and Murillo 2020; Couldry and Mejias 2019), and calls for a third world university (la paperson 2017), enslavement and settler colonialism's enduring and exploitative projects of racial capitalism (Robinson 1983; Jenkins and Leroy 2021) continue to thrive in the worlds of work that knowledge production requires. Today’s conditions of financial austerity, labor organizing, predation, gig work, data extraction, and digital inequity reveal knowledge work’s historical role in structuring projects of enslavement, dispossession, militarized occupation, and genocide. Redlining, missionary and residential schooling, carceral labor, attacks on critical race theory, longstanding patterns of researching and denying access to vaccines and other products of knowledge, and the funding of scientific racism continue to inform the geographic, theoretical and methodological paths of struggles for educational justice, academic freedom, abolition, reparations, and repair. Studying labor practices and work experiences in systems of knowledge production makes clear the historically constitutive relationships between oppressions based on race, ethnicity, caste, religion, and indigeneity and capitalism’s investments in bodily immunities and materialities (Ambedkar 2014; Carsten 2019; Kauanui 2008; Mosse 2018; Shah 2001; Trouillot 1995; Varma 2020). With these relationships in mind, this special issue calls for further investigation about how these tactics of exploitation shapeshift (Cox 2015) and show up in homes, classrooms, workplaces, publics, and educational systems (Shange 2019; Sojoyner 2016; Zambrana 2018).

What enables or supports individual and collective forms of access to social, economic, and political forms of capital in systems of learning, education and knowledge creation? What are the new and surprising ways that capitalism has shown itself as immune to its competing logics in academic settings? Given the centrality of labor to wealth-accumulating complexes of enslavement, caste oppression, militarized state violence, and settler colonialism, how are contemporary forms of immunocapital investing in sites and projects of knowledge production? What kinds of tactics of surveillance, labor exploitation, radical care and collective survival facilitate and challenge its value in the production of knowledge? Finally, how can investigations of immunocapital’s diverse pathways expand anthropological understandings of what it means to work and survive in knowledge work systems today?

We welcome submissions that name and frame labor practices that undergird immunocapitalisms and their infrastructures of knowledge production. We also welcome articles that foreground research on movements within knowledge-work systems that unsettle and dismantle practices of racial, labor and gender exploitation in transnational and global contexts and that center perspectives of underrepresented and marginalized groups. Submissions may discuss historical and contemporary conditions of labor and work in knowledge-work across and beyond the following political, methodological and ethical arenas:

racialized and gendered labor (Navarro et al. 2013; Tate 2016; Tate and Page 2018); intellectual canon setting (McLaurin 2001; Harrison 2010; Bolles 2013); citational praxis (Ahmed 2017; Cite Black Women n.d.; McKittrick 2021); data sharing and extraction and the politics of location (Al-Bulushi et al. 2020; Gunasekara 2020; Tsosie et al. 2020); research ethics, co-laboring, and collaboration (Benjamin 2016; Günel et al 2020; Harding 2015; Riley and Bezanson 2018; Rodriguez 2001; Smith 2013; Harrison 2012; Visweswaran 1994); caste, class, rank, and hierarchy prestige networks (Kawa 2018; Leighton 2020; Rege 2007; Subramaniam 2019); disability justice (Bailey and Mobley 2019; Block 2020, Friedner and Zoanni 2018; Ginsburg and Rapp 2013, 2020; Schalk 2013); open access (Besky et al. 2021; Brown et al. 2018; Jackson and Anderson 2014); digital and language accessibility (Brodkin et al 2011; Flores 2016; Shulist and Rice 2019; Sarkar 2021); scholar-activist engagements (Bailey and Peoples 2017; Carter 2020; Dhillon and Estes 2016; Mullings 2005; James 2015; West 2005; Finkelstein 2019); academic labor organizing and unionization (McCaffrey et al 2020; Pearson 2015); predation, contingency, and precarity (Berlant 2011; Platzer and Allison 2018; Lyon 2018); invisible labor and care work (Kraemer 2018; Williams 2016); harm and sexual violence in educational settings (Berry et al. 2017; Clancy et al. 2014; Nelson et al. 2017; Prescod-Weinstein 2020; Simpson 2018; Todd 2016); and institutional reparations, repair, and restorative justice work (Morini 2019; Rosa and Díaz 2019; Thomas 2011, 2019; Schirrer 2020).

Submissions can be original research articles, long-form interviews, multimodal, auto-ethnographic, or theoretical in content but should be no more than 8,000 words and uploaded to the Anthropology of Work Review’s ScholarOne portal before midnight PST on November 29, 2021. Contributors are also invited to pitch ideas for supplementary materials to be published in the Society for the Anthropology of Work’s short-form, open access web publication, Exertions. These materials might include media objects or other materials that would help instructors and students to engage with the article more deeply or provide reflections on the relationship between teaching, learning and laboring as an academic. An optional one-page précis may be included as a supplementary document along with the main submission.

Questions and inquiries can be directed to the special issue’s coeditors.

Sareeta Amrute,

Mythri Jegathesan,

Preview Image

Photo by Mythri Jegathesan.


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